Blog Business Radio
Things have been a bit hectic lately, hence the radio silence, but I did want to let everyone know that I'll be the guest on Wayne Hurlbert's BlogTalk radio show, Blog Business Radio, tomorrow, Thursday November 30th at 8pm. Wayne and I will be talking about viral marketing.
Summer issue of Marketing Roadsigns newsletter
The summer issue of the Marketing Roadsigns e-newsletter went out last night. It features books reviews from my summer reading list, including Freakonomics, The Long Tail, Watchdogs of Democracy? and Lead Generation for the Complex Sale.
Since many of the folks who have been kind enough to subscribe to the newsletter also read this blog, I don't duplicate the content here, but you can read it on my Web site.
Marketing Roadsigns Newsletter
Marketing Roadsigns is the newsletter that accompanies this blog. Last year, I did it monthly, but have had to move to a bi-monthly schedule this year.
To make up for the reduced frequency, I've decided to make the lead article in each issue exclusive to the newsletter. The March/April issue (published today) features Customer Loyalty. I also have a brief review of Naked Conversations by Scoble & Israel and Blogging for Business by Holtz & Demopoulos.
Some of the Roadmaps content will still be used in the newsletter and vice versa, but for the most part I am going to keep the two vehicles distinct. This blog, which has a PR/marketing slant, will continue to focus on timely communications, blogging and industry issues. The newsletter will cover "evergreen" sales and marketing topics like customer loyalty, telemarketing and so forth.
This way, those of you who are kind enough to read both the blog and the newsletter will get something a little different out of each, which hopefully equates to the best of both worlds.
If you do not subscribe to the newsletter, but would like to check out one of the above-mentioned articles, I do index the newsletter on my company website.
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Blog recommendations for sales people
Since PR is apparently passe (link found on Burningbird) and marketing is a dirty word, I figured I go for broke today and write about the third topic area of this blog, sales. Because, hey, sales is probably the only corporate function that gets dumped on more than PR and marketing :-) As they say, in for a penny, in for a pound.
Right now, I am working on the first issue of a newsletter of sales/marketing tips for my client GuideMark. GuideMark specializes in CRM for banks. Central to the value proposition for CRM is that it will help the bank improve its sales process. The newsletter is an additional tool in the toolkit (or weapon in the arsenal if you prefer the Art of War metaphor). It will be distributed to our clients' sales people as well as prospects and anyone else who chooses to sign up on the Website.
The newsletter is written for the line of business sales person. It must be short, so they'll read the first issue, and value laden, so they'll read the second. Sales people are busy folks -- on the road, meeting prospects, solving customer problems, closing business. They don't have a lot of time to spare for business reading unless it directly helps them get the job done.
It also looks like they don't spend too much time writing blogs either. A Technorati search on the tag 'sales' delivers mostly marketing and PR blogs, including this one in 8th place. Now, I'm barely a Technorati blip in my main business areas of marketing and PR. There are lots and lots of marketing and PR bloggers, and since I don't worry too much about my ranking, I don't expect to be terribly high.**
The fact that this blog ranks that highly for 'sales' is a clear indication (to me) that there are not too many folks blogging about sales issues. Lots of Websites selling sales training and professional development but not many blogs. Combining this little bit of data with what I already know about the sales process, I will guess that there aren't too many sales folks reading business blogs either. But there is a lot of information in blogs that really could help our mortgage account executive and small business banker clients. So we are going to have a regular feature that covers valuable free online resources. And rather than just a list of resources, or a blog description, we are going to link the reader directly to a specific post or page that will provide immediate value.
Here's the first article:
Online Resources that Help You Sell
Let’s face it. There is a lot of sales “stuff” online, and much of it isn’t worth the time it takes to read it. Or it is just trying to sell you something, and you don’t have time for that. You need to be on the phone, on the road, talking to customers, closing business.
So we’ll help you cut through the clutter. Every issue, we will introduce you to some online resources worth your time. And if you have a site or a blog that you find useful, please send it our way.
This issue, we have two blogs to tell you about:
Guy Kawasaki’s Bona tempura volvantur. One of the original Apple evangelists, Kawasaki is now a venture capitalist and author of a number of well known business books. His blog is fairly new, and chock full of advice, some taken from his previously published works, some new. All useful. One recent post worth checking out: The Art of Sucking Down. How to get people on your side, for the reservation, the upgrade, the access to your prospect. Follow his advice and your life will get easier.
Selling to Big Companies blog, by Jill Konrath. Even though Konrath’s focus is on the high ticket sale, her advice is good for most B2B sales situations. One of her most useful posts, from last December is Why this voicemail failed. She gives some great tips on how to leave a voice mail that just might get a call back.
And on the topic of voicemail, if there is a decent chance that the person you are calling might actually remember you, leave your phone number in the very beginning part of the message. “Hi, this is Susan Getgood from GuideMark 978-555-1212…” and then proceed with the rest of the message. That way, if the person is busy and doesn’t have time to listen to your whole message, she quickly has your callback number and can delete the message.
I'd love your feedback on this feature as well as any recommendations for blogs we should cover.
** Special note to my readers and commenters: I may not have quantity in my readership, but you guys are definitely quality. Thanks!
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The power of the customer: Fans & Firefly
As many of you know, especially if we’ve met, or you regularly read the blog, I am a huge proponent of customer marketing. And not just marketing TO your customers with promotions designed to increase the lifetime value of the customer. By all means, do that, but don’t stop there. Make products that your customers will love and then harness that passion in your marketing efforts. Market WITH your customers, because they love your products, respect your company and want to help you succeed.
There ain’t nothing like a passionate customer. Here’s a little story that proves the point.
Once upon a time there was a little television show called Firefly. Firefly was created by Joss Whedon, the talented writer/director who brought Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel to the little screen.
Firefly was a bit different though. It didn’t follow the Buffy/Angel formula of supernatural beings and monsters among us in contemporary society. Instead, Firefly was a “space opera,” described by some as a cross between Battlestar Galactica and The Outlaw Josey Wales. The setting was far in the future, 500 years from Earth as we know it, but the people in the Firefly verse were “normal” people. At least to the extent that the context didn’t include magic, vampires and otherwordly beings. Everyone is pretty gorram** human, with a fair dose of the “cowboy” ethos, and maybe just a little bit Chinese.
Firefly was on the Fox network and Firefly never had a chance. I won’t rehash all the details, but suffice it to say, Fox didn’t get it, and the series was cancelled before all the original 13 episodes were aired.
But Whedon’s fans are a devoted bunch. In the first pass, many came to Firefly from Buffy and Angel, and realized that this new show was even better. When it was cancelled, they started to mobilize – letters, fan sites, conventions, etc. etc.
Some, like me, never got a chance to watch it the first time around because Fox jerked it around so much, but bought the DVD as soon as it was released. Because we just knew it had to be good (perhaps in part because Fox didn’t get it). In fact A LOT of people bought it as a pre-order on Amazon before it was released. A whole lot.
And a funny thing happened. Another studio, Universal, saw all this fan activity, watched the show, and decided that this Firefly thing was pretty good. Good enough for a feature film. And so we have Serenity… a feature film due in US cinemas on September 30th.
Lesson One: the fans were in large part responsible for Firefly’s second chance. Joss Whedon and the rest of the cast have more than once given them the credit. Smart man, that Joss Whedon. He creates brilliant television (and now movies), which creates loyal loyal fans, and he has the grace and smarts to give the fans their share of the credit.
But that’s not the end of the story. The Firefly fans are so devoted that they have mobilized to ensure the film’s success with guerilla marketing efforts in support of the planned campaigns by Universal. I couldn’t even tell you everything the fans have created in support of this movie, but it includes a podcast called the Signal that is in iTunes top 100, artwork, music, video and fan fiction, a campaign to get the DVDs rated highly on NetFlix, fan websites, blogs and forums, not to mention an extraordinarily active fan base on the official website for the movie.
All this fan activity geared to ensuring a boffo box office for Serenity in its first few weeks. Because that’s what ensures the second film. And these fans want more. Trust me, I know this personally.
And Whedon, his cast and Universal are encouraging and enabling all this fan activity with viral marketing efforts and their active participation in the fan activity – not just the Universal sponsored sites.
Because they get it, and that’s Lesson Two: when you have passionate fans, DO NOT get in their way. They will do as good, or better, job converting new customers than you could ever do. Support them as much as you can, but don’t try to co-opt them. Let your product continue to speak for itself. That’s what Whedon does – he’s said it in interviews: he’s not trying to make shows that people will like, he wants to create stories and characters that people will love.
Now in the spirit of full disclosure, this article is, of course, guerrilla marketing for Serenity as much as it is an analysis of the value of the customer in your marketing efforts. Think of it as a two-fer.
I’ll see you at the movies. On September 30th.
** god-damn for those of you who aren’t … yet … addicted to Firefly.
August issue of Marketing Roadsigns
The August issue of Marketing Roadsigns is up on my website. I am still catching up from two weeks of back and forth travel, and many deadlines, but plan to be back to a regular posting schedule next week.